Recent Feature Articles

Nov 2019

The Support Game

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In the 1970s, shortly before our friend Argle dared to do exactly what his boss asked of him in an efficient manner, he worked at the computer lab of a local community college. When his friend Terry was hired on as a new assistant, Argle sat down with her at the Tech Support desk for a run-down of hard-earned knowledge and best practices.


An Excelent Start to a Career

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Hal was a wiz kid computer programmer at age 15 in 1976. He could make the toggle switches and LEDs on his Altair 8800 dance at will. In college, he was class valedictorian after earning his computer science degree in 1984. Hal was destined for greatness and the real world was about to get rocked.

Hal's college friend Victor, who graduated two years prior, was already running his own startup company that made Unix-based financial planning software. Remembering Hal's brilliance, Victor recruited him to join his company the day after graduation. Victor needed the wiz kid-turned-wiz adult to create the equivalent of Lotus 1-2-3 in Unix. It was a tall first project but it paid well, so Hal happily signed up. Besides, everyone knew that spreadsheets were gonna change the world.


How The Semester Ends

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Ginger recently finished an advanced degree, and during her work, she of course had to work as a TA for a number of classes. Computer science professors are, at least in theory, capable of programming, and thus can build automation around assignments- providing students with templates to highlight specific tools and techniques, or to automate the process of grading.

Dr. Buchler taught the computer graphics course, and the ultimate assignment was to build a simple 3D game. Buchler provided a pre-scaffolded project with a set of templates that could be filled in, so the students didn’t need to worry about a lot of the boilerplate. Beyond that, Buchler didn’t offer much guidance about how students should collaborate, so students did what came naturally: they set up git repos and shared code that way.


The Most Secure Option

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“The auditors have finished examining our codebase.”

That was how Randy’s boss started the meeting, and she delivered the line like a doctor who just got the tests back, and is trying to break the news gently.